Casualties of War on DVD
This Brian De Palma film is supposedly based on a true story that happened
during the Vietnam war. It's a tale of a military whistleblower (Michael
J. Fox) whose conscience won't allow him to partake in the abduction and
rape of a Vietnamese girl organized by his squad leader (Sean Penn).
After an ambush in the field that leaves his closest friend in 'Nam dead,
and after having been barred from the local brothels, Penn designs the
scheme to kidnap a Vietnamese woman from her home and take her along on
their next patrol to use as a "pleasure unit."
It's a horrible concept indeed, brought about by Penn's frustration with
the situation in which he finds himself, and Fox argues against and refuses
to participate in the "adventure." This puts him at odds with his mates,
who feel they can no longer trust him - and trust is the one thing they
need to have between each other in the fields of fire.
The girl ends up being murdered, which pushes Fox's character into reporting
the incident to his superiors. Rather than being grateful to be given
the opportunity to excise a cancer from their units, however, they treat
Fox as the villain of the piece, for rocking the boat.
Penn is excellent, frighteningly tough as the sergeant, and Fox also
turns in a very good performance as the idealistic soldier with the courage
of his convictions. Director De Palma does a good job of re-creating the
crime and the time, and you really feel for the poor victim through her
long hours of horror and torment.
The supporting cast is also strong.
The DVD looks and sounds gorgeous. It's presented in digitally mastered
anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound; colors are rich
(Vietnam movies have a real opportunity to take advantage of the beautiful
greens of the jungle, and this one doesn't disappoint) and the picture
is sharp; the audio makes good use of the surround channels and the explosions
and ordnance sounds really good.
There's also some really nice pan flute in the musical score.
Extras include "Eriksson's War," a conversation with Michael J. Fox about
his thoughts of the incident and the movie, a featurette "The Making of
Casualties of War," deleted scenes, production notes and trailers.
It's too bad the subject matter of this film is so ugly, because it's
a gorgeous audio and visual treat otherwise.
Casualties of War, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
114 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
Starring Michael J. Fox, Sean Penn,
Produced by Art Linson
Written by David Rabe, Directed by Brian DePalma
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